Aerodynamics is the science that studies the motion of the air, when it interacts with man made solid objects, such as vehicles and aeroplanes. It is a branch of the bigger field of fluid and gas dynamics field, which means that many terms and theories are common between these three fields.
The aerodynamics drag has started to be studies as early as the eighteenth century, while the modern study of aerodynamics started right after. Wilbur and Orville Wright have been the pioneers in the demonstration and success of heavier than air flight. The modern aerodynamics makes use of mathematical analysis, experimentation in the wind tunnel, computer simulation and empirical approximations in order to develop further the flight of heavier than air objects. The latest studies in this field focus on turbulence, compressible flow and the boundary layers that use super computers to achieve accuracy of calculation.
The motion of the air around an object, or the flow field, enables the calculation of the forces in the moments touching the object. The fundamental forces implied in the forces of flight are:
- lift – the component of the force of the air acting on the body of an object, on the moment of the perpendicular flow direction.
- drag – is mainly taken from the natural phenomena such as shock waves and vortex sheets. It is calculated by the forces that pressure the body surface of an object, which are also influenced by the skin friction. It is usually calculated on the moving direction of the object, not perpendicular, as is lift.
- thrusth – is the reaction described in Newton’s second and third laws. When a vehicle has acceleration mass in one direction, it will cause an equal force in magnitude in the opposite direction. In the International System of Units it is calculated in Newton, which represents the acceleration of 1 kilogram of mass at the speed of 1 meter per second.
- weight – is the force of the object dictated by its gravitational pull. It is calculated as the product of the mass of an object and its gravitational acceleration.